IBM's recently acquired cloud arm SoftLayer has confirmed the duo are reviewing their line-up of distributors amid discussions with them about how best to sell cloud products.
Cloud firm SoftLayer was snapped up by Big Blue last summer as the latter looked to drive its cloud business, but SoftLayer continues to run independently as "an IBM company" and will not be swallowed up into the wider organisation.
SoftLayer's general manager for EMEA Jonathan Wisler told CRN today that IBM is working with its disties to work out how they can best adapt to selling cloud, a conversation prompted by the SoftLayer buyout.
"Right now we are actively working with the distributors on what the right go-to-market strategy is for them," he said. "What we are working with the distributors on – and this is a joint effort with IBM and Softlayer – is ‘what does their cloud distribution model look like?' from an economics perspective and a go-to-market perspective, because it is often fundamentally different to what they are selling now which is a hardware and software licensing model.
"Making a transition is not easy so we [SoftLayer and IBM] are working with them on the right go-to-market approach."
When directly asked if the cloud transition could see IBM make changes to its current distie line-up, Wisler said:
"Yes. There is an active conversation with distributors to figure out what the right solution is. We expect to have some news fairly shortly on that."
Wisler would not be drawn on how – or when – the distie changes would pan out, but today Avnet – which is the only UK distie to offer the full IBM portfolio – announced it now offers SoftLayer services in EMEA.
SoftLayer's CEO Lance Crosby said Avnet was chosen thanks to its strong cloud focus. "Avnet has a proven track record in developing cloud solutions for the channel, which will accelerate IBM business partners' ability to bring our solutions to customers," he said.
As part of SoftLayer's growth strategy – which it said has accelerated since the acquisition – the firm has set its sights on the EMEA channel and is eyeing up a number of "digital native" resellers to add to its ranks.
Wisler admitted that after it was bought, it "rationalised" its UK partners as there was some partner overlap in its and IBM's channel – although he stopped short of divulging how many partners were shown the door.
"We had been focused on up-and-comers and IBM had more of a transitional enterprise focus... there was some overlap but it wasn't massive," he said. "Now [together] we can answer all the customers' questions."
He admitted that prior to the merger SoftLayer did a lot of direct business in the region, but said that is set to change as channel partners become a key part of its growth plans.
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